Archive | June, 2008

BioME 5 Organic Kids Tees – Animal Alphabet Project

Where do you start with t-shirts from BioME 5!? There are so many good things about these t-shirts, I’m not sure where to begin. I guess first you can start with the company name because once you learn about the company’s vision, you’ll see the reflection in the clothes. Two architectural designers created the BioME 5 Animal Alphabet Project. The concept was creating a kids t-shirt to become a learning tool, combined with amazing animal images to foster an appreciation for nature’s beauty.

The name BioME 5 was inspired from the Earth’s natural biomes: desert, grasslands, aquatics, forests, and tundra. All of the animals featured on the tees exist in one of these environments. Now, back to the fact these tees were developed by architectural designers, Continue Reading →

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Support Your Village – That Includes Our Toyshop!

How exciting that our local village toyshop has recently gone ‘online’ with an awesome, new web site.  I couldn’t be more thrilled for the owner Kirsten. She already has a monthly guest spot on Global TV for hot tips on new toys and trends because her suggestions were SO popular from Christmas.   I discovered her store, shortly after having Francesco and boy is it a magical place.  You walk through the door and find toyologists wearing lab coats armed with more product knowledge and recommendations that you can handle!  <smile> Not only do they know all my kids by name and are super friendly, they are able to answer any question!  Each toyologist can tell you about a toy’s manufacturer, the materials it’s made from, and how you can maximize the toy’s value. Their customer service is amazing and the intimate shopping experience is one that everyone should experience.

In a time where cheaper toys are being recalled for malfunctions or paint is testing high for chemicals, upper scale toys are in demand for parent’s peace of mind. I don’t mind Playmobil’s prices because I’m confident they’ll never be recalled or have any problems (haha…have I mentioned I’m a hug fan of Playmobil?).  This may sound really paranoid, but I’m certain right before a company like Mattel or MEGA Brands recalls millions of toys, I’ll see these products at highly reduced prices at Winners. I remember being tempted to buy the Magnimals game for next to nothing the week before they were recalled.  I’m sure there’s a big conspiracy between large toy manufacturers and discount retail stores.  In recent years, I’ve realized that buying crappy toys just adds to the clutter in my house and doesn’t offer much value with the kids and how they play.  Toys offering a social message, that teach science or math, dress up clothes, puzzles, card games, or Playmobil sets encouraging imaginative play are the focus of our toy purchases these days.  These are sustainable items…not massive amounts of cheap plastic that will end up outlasting my life span at the landfill.

I’ve written many articles about supporting local farmers or purchasing clothing through Etsy to support a stay home mom that can sew, well the small toyshops are no exception.  Continue Reading →

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Avoiding Bear Encounters & Safety Tips For Forest Walks

I’ve come to the realization that the only place all four of my kids are completely happy is on the beach or on a forest walk.  With the different ages, it’s too hard to keep them all happy for an extended period of time at parks, the aquarium, science world, etc.  They all head off in separate directions and everyone ends up frustrated.  But get them near the ocean, tide pools, a forest with stumps to climb…magical things happen.  Everyone is happy and that makes my life SO easy!  The only drawback to this wonderful discovery is that bears are almost as common as dogs in the forested areas where I live as many neighborhoods back onto green belts and new neighborhoods have built homes high up into the trees.  It is not uncommon to see either a coyote, deer, or bear in our local neighborhoods. Yikes…it’s scary!  I don’t know how I would handle myself if I was alone in a forest with 4 small children and ran into a black bear.

I figure knowledge is empowering, so hopefully by the end of this article, I’ll feel more confident to explore the amazing nature that surrounds us in BC.  It is such an amazing lush and beautiful province, filled with trees that take your breath away.  This time of year the salmon have completed their annual run up the rivers to spawn, but wild berry bushes have started to sprout everywhere you look, which bears love to eat!  I would say a bigger problem in our community is people that leave their garbage at curb side the night before pickup and that property developers have built huge communities where the forest once remained untouched.  There has been lots of housing development of late.  But when deep in a forest, you are in the bear’s backyard, so you need to adapt. Here are tips to avoid bear encounters:

Avoiding Bear Encounters In The Forest:

→  Travel with others.  haha..with my kids I always have company.  Inviting friends with an adult to join us for walks would be a good idea.

→  Avoid wearing strong perfumes.

→  Keep children and dogs close to you at all times.  Stay together as a group.

→  Watch for fresh bear signs: bear poo (large with seeds visible), tracks, scratches on trees.

→  Make noise.  I smile as I type this because there is no louder gang than my brood all together.  You can clap, sing, talk loudly to warn a bear you are coming.  I will invest in some bear bells for the kids.  They are inexpensive and my kids would love the novelty of wearing them!  Anything that helps keep them a little safer.

 

If I can learn how to use it properly, I’ll also invest in some bear spray.  On most given days I have no clue where my wallet or car keys are…I’m not sure how effective finding bear spray in a stressful situation like a bear encounter would work for me.  <smile>  But, you can bet if one of my kids was in danger of being attacked, I could figure it out quick.

 

I don’t know where I heard ‘scream and run’ as the advice for encountering a bear at close range, but I’ve learned this information is not correct.  If you encounter a bear you should stand still, speak to it firmly but calmly, and wave your arms slowly or clap so that the bear will recognize you as a human.  You retreat slowly and quietly without making eye contact with the bear.

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Build-A-Bear and Educating Children About Endangered Animals

I discovered a few interesting facts involving endangered animals that I wanted to share.  I’ve had endangered animals on my mind since the boys and I visited our zoo last weekend.  We never miss an opportunity to discuss animal issues, especially when we say hi to the tigers that Francesco believed he’s rescued from extinction from his birthday party donations.  The boys mentioned at the zoo that perhaps it would be nice to save a different animal species at his birthday party next year.  The impact and dialogue that resulted from Francesco requesting donations in lieu of gifts, just continues to build.  Every hawk/eagle that circles the sky, one of my boys always comments that we’ll have to save them next.  I love that they are thinking of helping animals above the fun of receiving presents. I’m still receiving positive comments and feedback from parents about this idea.

The highlight of our zoo visit is the miniature train you can ride that tours the entire zoo.  The part that I enjoy the most is the train conductor who gives interesting and adorable animal facts over their loud speaker while driving the train.  They are such cute bits of information for the kids – here are a few:

♦  All zebras have the same number of stripes…they are just organized in a different pattern on each zebra.

◊  If you shaved all the fur off a tiger, the stripe pattern would still be visible on their skin.

♦  Flamingos are not naturally pink.  The alpha and beta-carotene in their diet makes them this color…without it they would be gray.

◊  A giraffe’s heart weighs 25 lbs.  Also, a  giraffe only sleeps for 1/2 hour per day (24 hour period).  If a giraffe naps for 1 minute…that is considered a deep sleep.  (Yikes!!)

♦  And lastly, what started me on this topic – the Siberian Tigers at our zoo, will likely be extinct in the wild by the year 2010.  Right now they are considered extremely endangered.

Francesco has always loved those tigers at the Vancouver Zoo and it makes us so sad to think about how endangered their species is.  It got me thinking that a ‘softer’ way to introduce a younger child to the plight of endangered animals is to engage them in a really fun activity.  Take them to Build-A-Bear!  This may sound like a contradiction to most Eco activities, but we are talking about a great way to provide information and education without the child even realizing it.  Build-A-Bear makes it easy by featuring World Wildlife Fun Friends.  For every animal purchased in their WWF Collection, Build-A-Bear will donate $1 to the World Wildlife Fund.  What a great idea! 

hmmmm ..can you imagine if Webkinz did the same thing?  With how many Webkinz creatures they sell…the dollar amount would be incredible!  I’m just thinking out loud, but I might need to send off an email.  <smile>

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Eye Spy Eco Activity or Kid’s Birthday Party Idea

At Angelo’s year end wrap-up party for preschool, the children and parents were surprised with an incredible forest walk.  We are lucky enough to have some forest left nearby our little school.  It wasn’t your ‘standard’ forest walk to find bugs or climb stumps…it was an eye spy adventure.  The teachers had pulled objects out of the classroom and placed them in obvious (and not-so-obvious) spots along the forest trail.  There was a doll baby perched in a tree, colored markers scattered along the forest floor, pretend food from the play kitchen, larger objects for kids that weren’t searching very hard <smile>, etc.  There were squeals of delight as they recognized what didn’t belong in the forest and where and what the object was used for at the preschool.  

Isn’t that a great idea for a fun Eco summer activity or birthday party event?  There was zero cost and the children LOVED it!  My girls were also on the walk and enjoyed it, so the age range for this could span easily from 2-10 years old.  My children would think it’s hilarious to find everyday items from our house on a nature walk in our nearby creek.  Place object in tree stumps, hang things from trees, and give them some easy to find treasures too.  Continue Reading →

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